Sunday, June 21, 2009

She totally gets it

We acquired some speakers and a CD player to go with them this weekend that know they have found a true home. We couldn't help but testing them repeatedly after Eric got them set up and made sure they worked (they were from an auction). First, some classic rock guitar. Then, bluegrass. Then, classical. Then, Newsboys. Finally, it hit us -- and, even though it was June, we pulled out the Trans Siberian Orchestra Christmas arrangement with everything from violins to guitar to piano and so on in it; this is the one where I always "assign" an instrument for everyone to pretend they're playing, because the instruments play at different places and they really have to listen for it.

So we are blasting it in the living room, (and really only my brother and sister know what I mean here by blasting) and Delaney and Sara are the string section, Levi's got the drums, Jesse is the bass guitar, Leah and Eric are the electric guitars, I'm the keyboard. We love the sounds, the speakers, our family, music, Right in the middle of one of the full orchestration points, at the top of her lungs, with a huge grin on her face, Delaney says:

"I broke a string!"

Monday, June 15, 2009


Last evening, while Eric and the kids were playing in the back yard, two dogs came across the road running toward the kids and barking. I knew what was next, and it didn't take long: two screaming girls (Sara and Leah) and three other very nervous kids. Sara practically choked Eric while trying to climb up the back of his shirt as he tried to calm down the dogs, who were fairly small and friendly. The neighbor came quickly to retrieve her dogs. Fast forward to this morning, as we were making our way through a list of small jobs that needed to be done. Sara and Leah were tasked with sweeping the garage.

Sara, coming through the garage door into the kitchen with Leah: " don't want to be outside alone."

Me (knowing why): "That's going to make for a pretty long summer and boring life, don't you think?

No smiles. Stone faces.

Me: "All right, here's the thing. I know that you feel scared that more dogs might surprise you outside. But, if you remember, you have been doing great petting new dogs you meet lately, and getting more comfortable. And, we know you don't want to miss swinging, and bike riding and soccer and everything outside, right?"

Them: "Right."

Me: "I think one thing we could do is to pray and ask God to help you not feel so afraid to be outside, to give you peace that He is always with you."

Sara: "So God would stop the dogs from coming and barking and just make them stand still?"

Me: "No, that might not happen. But He will definitely help you be brave and not be so scared. OK? You could pray right now in the garage."

A few minutes later. I'm in the bathroom and Leah yells through the door.

Leah: "Mom!? We prayed!"

Me: "That's great, honey!"

Leah: "What's Jesus going to do now?"

Me: "Well, He's going to help you on your you feel better about being outside."

Leah: "Like, move our hearts around?"

Me: "Um, no, not exactly. Like, help you feel brave about dogs and get your work done without being scared."

Leah: "Oh, so we'll be like Levi?"

(And yes, they did a great job sweeping.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Growing independence

When our summer break hits, my mind always turns to "big" ideas that have been waiting (im)patiently in the back of my brain. These are often things I notice about our children that need some, shall we say, course correction. I like to use our extra free time to gain some ground in an area in which they are lacking, or let us all explore something new, or a new way of doing something routine.

Anyway, a recurring "idea" that keeps bugging me is what I see as the kids' lack of independence. I was driving back home from a trip to the post office in our nearby small town right about the time the school buses were making their rounds. I noticed a small girl with a big backpack making her way to didn't look like she was headed home. The thought hit me hard again: when do my kids ever walk alone in town? Oh, yes, NEVER. You put five kids born close together + homeschooling + living on a seriously-busy road + the potential-child-harm-gestapo-government, you get...well, my children. : )

Of course I'm not saying they never do things on their own. They do plenty of activities around here that require responsibility and have consequences. It's the little things that you would never think of: how do you replicate choosing and paying for your own food in a lunch line? Send them alone into McDonald's? Someone would call the police on you. How do you replicate walking to a friend's house to ask if they could play? Adopt-a-neighborhood? Kind of freaky. And how about those hours I would spend biking around the country roads by myself trying to get lost? Do that now on this road, and you might as well start making up missing-child posters.

It's very hard to discern what part of me is just over-protecting and what part is not. I see a real need to get them used to making bigger decisions without us around, but I don't want to be irresponsible about it. Ideas, please?!